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Who is my neighbor?

3 min. read

Jesus held a simple and unfiltered belief — everyone is a neighbor. Everyone in every sense of the word, not just the people in our orbit whom we have something in common with but also the ones we don’t notice, the people we don’t value, and those we don’t welcome. Admittedly, noticing people who aren’t loved ones, or a part of our day-to-day life isn’t always top of mind. In a world that often feels more digital than tangible, it’s no secret that our ability to connect is duller than it used to be. Not to mention, our attention at any given moment is being pulled into what feels like infinite directions.

In a very different way, Jesus faced similar challenges. Sure, he didn’t have the distraction of a smartphone, but he was a popular guy who drew crowds. People sought his attention, yet he took time to give his to those who never got any. He noticed ill-stricken people with leprosy and comforted them. These were people who were ignored by everyone else, yet he displayed neighborly love toward them. We thought about the people we don’t notice in our own lives walking down the street, in the aisle at the grocery store, or even those living next door to us. Jesus’ example served as a simple yet powerful reminder that he put the “every” in everyone, so we wanted to create work that did the same if only for 15 seconds.

Jesus often led by example. In doing so, he led us to another type of neighbor — the ones we don’t value. During his time, women were relegated to subservient roles in a male-dominated society, but Jesus didn’t bend to the status quo. He spoke to women in public, which was a social taboo. He stood up for women during moments of injustice and involved them in ministry to boot. He valued women beyond their traditional roles and treated them equally. In our world, it’s easy to value those who share the same values as us or those who belong to the same groups, but we were inspired by Jesus’ willingness to defy that trend.

The third type of neighbor seemed to jump out at us after we examined Jesus’ life. We noticed that Jesus was inclined to welcome others. His trusted disciples were strangers when he met them, yet he welcomed them into his life and built his platform alongside them. He could’ve turned to family or others that he knew from his youth, but his prerogative was to find neighbors who were vastly different from him and one another to bring together. He was profoundly and deliberately backward in that way.

We found these examples compelling and wanted to craft an ad that reflected what the unnoticed, the undervalued, and the unwelcomed might look like today in our own lives. Once we saw the images, the idea that everyone is a neighbor resonated even deeper with us. We saw each of these people as part of a whole. People we should offer compassion to because if they flourish, we all do. Each one of us is a part of one larger community. Jesus knew that all too well. That’s why he wanted us to use our differences as a catalyst for conversations that can lead us to invite each other in rather than keeping one another at bay.

Scripture References: Matthew 8, John 4:1-29, Mark 1:16
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